Even though I claim to be an actor, and despite the fact that – pre-performance nerves aside – I am not hugely terrified about speaking in front of an audience, I still feel socially awkward when asked to speak to individual people when this is outside my daily routine or comfort zone. With the launch date of the play looming I knew the poster day was approaching. As this play is the fruit of my loins, it is rather more personal to me than getting cast in someone else’s play. Not that I take any role for granted but when a piece is self-written it removes one layer to hide behind. I cannot blame the terrible script if the performance is dreadful. Appearing in your own play ups the responsibility level. Therefore I had to swallow my nerves and volunteer for a role that I have studiously avoided for most of my life – promotional work.
Promotional work takes several forms – the online stuff is fairly easy – the Facebook event; the invites; the status updates. It is an utterly essential part of advertisement – if it’s not on social media then it doesn’t exist. This clearly causes awareness issues among resisters. I have a few friends who actively avoid social media – either never having opened, or opting out of maintaining a Facebook account. You need to be aware of these exotic, free thinking people, and to remember to send them an email or an old fashioned text message to remind them of any upcoming events.
A more old fashioned form of promotion involves the use of paper posters and flyers. In the recent past this was an essential means of getting the word out. If you were a low-budget or a no-budget group then paying for a newspaper advert was not an option. Printing posters and placing them in strategically placed locations where you think they might be seen by potential audience members was a requirement. These days it remains an integral part of promotion. How effective it currently is (or ever was) seems unquantifiable. Speaking from personal experience I tend to notice posters and if the event is appealing I will check out the social network event online. So in my case at least it has an impact.
My issue is how uncomfortable I feel, entering trading establishments and asking for permission to place a poster on the wall. This is an absurd fear. I am aware of this fact. It is not rational to think that when asked to place a poster on a wall that the staff member is going to point at you and laugh and shriek ‘No way. You are a loser, and your play looks shit, and will clearly flop. Get out of this building now before I call the police on you. For harassment. And by the way you look like cat-sick.’
This is an entirely irrational fear. At the very worst the person will say ‘Sorry but we don’t allow adverts.’
Nonetheless we convened at midday (an hour later than planned thanks to my tardiness). I would not be working alone. My partner in crime and I, would be targeting the city centre, north of the river. We had a Dunnes Stores bag full of posters, as well as Blu-Tack and Sellotape.
We blitzed the city – from our rehearsal space, to our apres workshop local. From youth hostel to art café. From Republican Bar to Mexican burrito bar. From Moldovan supermarket to independent bookshop. From hotel to vegan eatery (I willingly entered one of these places – which is a sign of my dedication let me tell you). We pounded those streets. We noticed that some of the shows we would be competing with had tread our path already. We placed our posters to the left of theirs – purely because most people’s eyes scan from left to right, so we wanted ours to be seen first.
Most people were friendly. As was to be expected. A lot of places said they would take flyers but not posters. The Spanish woman working in WigWam on Abbey Street was very apologetic about the bar’s policy of not allowing posters. But she poured us a glass of water to refresh ourselves and took a photograph of the event and promised to come see the show. That’s the type of loveliness that made the nerves worthwhile.
In the meantime if you want to see the show – it runs from May 1 to May 6 at the Teacher’s Club.
You can book your tickets HERE….